The Girls Of The Leesburg Stockade

According to GPB NEWS

Many of the struggles of the Civil Rights era are well known. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat, the March on Washington, Bloody Sunday in Selma, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Others remain hidden, or only known to a few. In 1963, more than a dozen African American girls, aged 13-15, were held in a stockade for two months. Their crime: demonstrating for integration in Americus, Georgia.

It’s an unremarkable cinder block building, just outside Leesburg. The inside is drab and windowless. Concrete floors, fluorescent lights, bare walls. The city used it as office space, and it once housed the county’s 911 call center.

Carol Barner-Seay remembers every detail of how it looked in 1963. She’s returned many times over the years. “I’m just grateful to keep coming back to see where I was,” she said. “Even though it held me then, it don’t hold me now. So, when I left I didn’t take this with me.”

For Emmarene Streeter, it’s her first time back in over 50 years. When asked what’s it like to be back, she sighs, holds up her hand, and walks into another room.

These women, and thirteen others, spent 45 days in this building for challenging the ways of the segregated South.

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Clockwise from top left, Shirley Reese, Carol Barner-Seay, Diane Dorsey-Bowens and Emmarene Kaigler-Streeter were among the 20 or so girls who in 1963 were jailed, some as long as 45 days, in the one room Leesburg Stockade. Credit Grant Blankenship / GPB

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